Mississippi State Hospital |+|
|Title= State Hospital
Governor AG Brown made the first public proposition to establish a hospital for the insane in 1846. In 1848, the Mississippi Legislature appropriated funds for the original facility, which opened in 1856 at the present site of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. The institution became a highly contested site during the Civil War. Under the direction of General William T. Sherman, the Union Army ransacked the institution during the early stages of the occupation of Jackson in July 1863. Union soldiers plundered the storeroom and garden, and slaughtered numerous livestock. Making matters worse, seven of institution’s ten employees left their jobs and joined the Union Army. |+|
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|−|Two notable developments occurred at the institution during Reconstruction. The institution began admitting black patients in 1870. Indications show that black and white patients resided in neighboring wards in the same buildings for a majority of the institution’s 85-year operation. Secondly, in 1871, the state legislature mandated weekly visits to the institution by its trustees. Such a mandate shows its usefulness in the institution’s yearly death rate of roughly 21 per year during most of Reconstruction. Due to the lack of upkeep and lack of funding, Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum became dilapidated during the late-19th century. Until 1894, the institution relied on coal oil lamps and candles for lighting, and a local pond for water. In 1892, a fire broke out that destroyed two-thirds of the institution’s major building and claimed one patient’s life. Spurred by this devastating fire, the state legislature appropriated funds to begin having electric light fixtures installed throughout the institution in 1894. [[ Mississippi State Hospital|Click here for more...]] |+|
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Willard State Hospital
In 1853, the site was acquired for the state's first agricultural college. The college - on 440 acres of farmland in the town of Ovid, "the geographical centre and Eden of the Empire State" - opened in December 1860, but it didn't last long. Within months, its president and most of the teachers and students marched off to fight in the Civil War, and the college never reopened. It was superseded by the new state university, established in Ithaca on land donated by state Senator Ezra Cornell.
Soon afterward, the site was earmarked for the Willard Asylum for the Insane, which would represent a second and major step toward transferring responsibility for the care of the mentally ill to the state. From colonial times, the care of insane persons had been a local function. Each county operated a poorhouse, or almshouse, wherein was indiscriminately lodged a hodgepodge of dependant persons: the mad, the feebleminded, the aged and crippled, drunks, epileptics and beggars. The almshouses provided custody and shelter, but "treatment" was not in their vocabulary.
The first step toward state assumption of responsibility was the opening of the Utica Lunatic Asylum in 1843. Utica was established as a treatment facility. It was reserved for new, acute eases and was required by law to return to county custody any patient who was not discharged as recovered within two years. Still condemned to the almshouse were the incurables, who, contrary to the unreal expectations of early asylum enthusiasts, were the norm among the pauper lunatic class. Dorothea Dix, among others including the underfunded county superintendents of the poor, drew the Legislature's attention to the unspeakable plight of the chronically ill. Click here for more...